Volunteer surf lifesavers are reminding the public to heed the State government's order regarding social distancing while visiting NSW beaches.
With the increasing risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, many people are avoiding indoor spaces and instead heading to the beach to make the most of the warm conditions along the NSW coastline.
Metropolitan lifesavers are reporting higher than usual numbers of people heading to the beach, many of whom are unaware of the new government order banning gatherings of more than 500 people.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce asked beachgoers to heed the advice of volunteer lifesavers on the beach.
"Our volunteer lifesavers are on the beach to protect the community and to save lives," Mr Pearce said.
"We ask that beachgoers abide by the social distancing order put in place by the NSW Government, limiting gatherings in any environment, including the beach, to 500 people," he said.
"It's important to respect any advice given to you by a surf lifesaver to vacate a beach.
"It's for your own safety and the safety of the community as a whole."
The government's order has affected many beaches along the NSW coastline, with some metropolitan and Hunter beaches forced to close on Sunday, March 22.
NSW provide lifesavers to high use beaches; if they get high numbers they will encourage people to leave the beach.Dan Aldridge
However, Mid Coast beaches will not be closed to the public.
According to MidCoast Council community spaces recreation and trades manager, Dan Aldridge there was little chance of beaches along the Mid Coast reaching more than 500 people at this time of year.
"At this time we are taking advice from both the State and Federal governments," Mr Aldridge said.
"NSW provide lifesavers to high use beaches; if they get high numbers they will encourage people to leave the beach."
Mr Aldridge said MidCoast Council did not have the authority to force people to leave the beach.
Surf patrol captains and club captains have been given the discretion to withdraw patrols if volunteers are concerned about their own safety, irrespective of the numbers of people on the beach.
BEACH SAFETY TIPS
- Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website
- Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
- Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
- Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
- In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police
- For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.